You have the right to check your credit report once each year, for free. And actually, there are three major credit reporting agencies, so you get three credit reports for free each year.
But here’s a great idea: Spread your credit reports out throughout the year, so that you get better coverage, and a better understanding of your total financial picture. Here’s how I do it: I get one of my credit reports in January, another in May, and the third in September. Then the next January, I repeat! I happen to do them in this order: TransUnion, Experian, Equifax, but any order would do.
It’s a good thing to monitor your credit at least once a year, but a lot can happen over the course of a year. Say I checked my credit reports all at once, and the next week, my identity is stolen by someone who uses my social security number to open a ton of accounts. I might not know about it until a full year later, when I checked my reports again. But if I pull one report every four months, I have a greater chance of catching an error (or a thief) in good time.
So, if you don’t pull your credit reports on a rotating schedule, consider starting. If you already do, this is your reminder to pull your next credit report now! (Assuming you pulled the last one in May, like I did.)
And remember, you should always get your free credit reports from http://www.annualcreditreport.com, which is the site set up by the Federal Trade Commission. Other sites claiming to give you your “free” credit report might have singing pirates, but they’ll also try to charge you a monthly fee.